One of the great things about Cook the Farm is the other people. We inherited a group of 10 people to plant seeds and bake bread with. Most nights, we cook in the convent kitchen together.
This is not a romantic kitchen. It’s erratically outfitted (including but not limited to three cannoli canisters, two crucifixes, and an orange juice squeezing machine) and awkwardly shaped. But it has become the backdrop for our community, where we share our stories, ideas, and even recipes.
This first post of Cook the Convent features Ornella Marcante, the most senior member of our group but also one of the liveliest. Ornella and her Sicilian husband live in Milan, where they led a wonderful restaurant for many years. She’s taking a sabbatical now, as she says, figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up. She is hysterically funny and solidly grounded, despite being impressively accomplished.
On Tuesday, she cooked us some stuffed artichokes to go with our homemade sflogia, whipped them out of thin air, stained her fingers incredibly, and impressed us all (thanks Amanda for grabbing this awesome pic before they were all gone).
Here’s the recipe:
Artichokes de convento
Feeds 12 as a side
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 c breadcrumbs (ours were toasted in olive oil)
2 c creamy sheep cheese, grated or diced (we peeled and diced caciocavallo)
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
10 olives with pits (could also use capers) for garnish
½ – 1 c white wine
1 Tbl. lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
1. Prep the artichokes:
Shorten stems to about an inch below the artichoke. Peel leaves until you get to soft layers (quite a radical reduction). Chop the spiny tops off, so you have about 2 inches of artichoke height. Use a small spoon to scoop out the choke. Tease out the remaining leaves so there’s a cozy space for fillings in the middle. When you’re done preparing the artichokes, let them sit in a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
2. Prep the filling:
Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Fill the artichokes:
We used spoons to dish into the center cavities, without any fear of them spilling over — “If the cheese gets into the spaces between petals, it’s even better,” Ornella says. Gingerly embed an olive or caper into the middle of each artichoke flower.
4. Cook the artichokes:
Pour a lug of olive oil in a frying pan and place artichokes in the pan over medium-low heat. Cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes, add white wine to simmer and cover with a lid (or aluminum foil in our kitchen). Continue cooking until the cheese is melted and the stem easy to cut through.
Grazie mille, Ornella! Buon appetito, tutti!